Chapter 102 = Upside-down
Disclaimer: All characters here are of my own invention, but the original idea of Yoshies, Birdos, etcetera, are copyright of Nintendo, and I make no money from writing this.
34th of Eira, CD 2156;
After the gate had been breached and the soldiers deserted their positions, it had been easy for the Yoshian army to take over the city. They had still paid in the form of soldiers they had lost to arrows, and to the Baron any nonzero loss greatly subtracted from the victory, but it was done. It was history and he had to look to what things were like now.
The city was being cleaned up, mostly. A few pockets of resistance were being broken up, some with less force than others, and order was being restored. The guards who hadn’t left the city entirely were robbed of their equipment but left alive, and the destroyed gate was being cleared so that the supply carts of the army could get into the city. The silvery assassin had hung around to retrieve her weapons from the rubble. The casualties of the interracial riots during the attack were being treated for, or where that wasn’t possible, buried.
This wasn’t meant to become a racial war… the Baron thought at first, sighing. I just wanted to defend our people and stop this madness. But… it is their kingdom against ours… a racial war is almost inevitable…
The army was certainly swelling in size. Some of the rioters gladly joined the army, and the students from the university were also offering their services, mostly as medics, tacticians, and similar less dangerous professions – but any help was needed, and the Baron was glad that men and women so young were at least being kept from harm’s way where possible, though he would have preferred it if they had never insisted on joining the army.
I’d have preferred it even more if nobody had to fight… but I don’t get to make that decision.
The headquarters of the city guard had been taken over, and was currently the army’s HQ. Sentries manned the western walls to watch for any signs of attack, and every moment when none reported back was welcome. It gave the Baron more time to ponder the mysteries coming up before him… namely the anthro Yoshi who had been captaining the city forces.
So far he had been silent. Well, effectively silent. Those interrogating him wished he’d be silent – any of his enraged replies he decided to make were in language so coarse even the Baron’s most patient people – priests, for the gods’ sakes, the most placid members of his arms – were losing their temperament. All they had discerned so far was his name, Mikhail.
The head assassin was another mystery. She had given more details on Mikhail, though her words were laden with incredible venom which went unexplained for a while until she got to what he had been threatening to do to her when he thought he had won.
Honestly… the Baron thought, putting his head in his hands. Torture. Rape. Such threats… are not made by Yoshies. Only by humans. Because only they would carry them out…
He needed advice and it wasn’t the kind his advisors could give him. Leaving behind his armour, he left without any guards despite fervent protests, wearing only his regal robes and sword in addition to his boots and saddle.
Striding through the city streets, he found what he was looking for in a short amount of time. Without checking to see if anyone was following, he pushed open the large wooden doors and strode inside, letting them close behind him.
“…try again, take it slowly.”
“E… Ei… ahh… Eir… Eirsir.”
“And the next word?”
At the altar, a black-skinned Yoshian priest was sitting with a small Yoshi, definitely a child, probably about three years of age, both talking in Yoshian. Nobody else was in the church, save for the Baron, who stepped closer, his footsteps echoing a little.
“W… uh… wa… wat… ah… watch…. watched.”
The priest heard the footsteps, and gave the child a pat on the nose, rubbing softly. “Very good. Somebody’s here, so that’s all for now. We can come back to it later, Tammy.”
Tamaroro nuzzled up to Vachez’s hand happily, looking over to the Baron curiously, and at the extravagant robes draped over his body. Vachez evidently noticed too as he put his monocle away and left a toy for Tamaroro to play with, giving a respectful nod to the Baron as he approached.
“Welcome, my lord, to this church… I keep it in good condition, despite what fate – and rioters – may throw at it. Yet I have been to Lince, and I know the cathedral there is far more splendid than this.”
“It is, yes,” the Baron agreed, “but it is the priests who make the church, not the building itself.”
“Very true.” Vachez concurred. “What is it that brings you here? Don’t you have more urgent tasks?”
“Even I need to ask for help from the gods, you know. They are watching over us, as they have done for so long, and they help us when we stumble. I want to know if I am doing the right thing…”
Vachez led the Baron to one of the many empty seats, and began to talk. It was in the common tongue, so Tamaroro didn’t understand, and just took the plush toy Vachez had given him and cuddled it to his chest, looking at the copy of the Fayen laid out beside him.
“Sanni…” Tamaroro mumbled, talking to his plushie as he cast his gaze over to the two adults. “Everyone’s so sad re… recen… ah… recently. I wonder what happened. And it was so noisy earlier.”
“There you are, I’ve been looking everywhere for you.”
Tsi-Lau turned her head to see Skafria walking over to her, cradling their egg. There were a few meandering Yoshies on the streets in the late evening darkness, and Tsi-Lau was sitting on a bench near the canal that ran through the city, and she went back to staring into the water and the moonlight reflecting off of it.
“Are you alright?” he asked, sitting down beside her, still holding the egg close. It was very awkward to carry around everywhere, and he put it into his lap, holding his arms loosely around it to keep hold of it.
“Today…” she murmured after a moment, sighing loudly. After another pause, she kicked a small pebble, watching it land in the canal with a splash, concentric ripples spreading out across the water, distorting the image of the moon above them.
“Today, I stared a devil in the eyes… I heard his poisoned words and his threats, and I was touched by his stained hands… I was looking into the eyes of an enemy… the enemy… and yet… he was… he was a Yoshi.”
Skafria leaned against her gently, listening intently as she continued. “Never before have I so dearly wanted to kill somebody… I have killed for money, for work, for vengeance, in self-defence… never yet, until today, did I feel such a burning desire to end someone’s life, did I so dearly want to plunge my weapons into him and watch him die… I wanted to see the blood spurt from his mouth and his wounds, I wanted to… I wanted to see him suffer.”
She turned her head at last, looking Skafria in the eyes. “I wish it were a nightmare… my people are becoming corrupted and turning into demons… and they, they have nearly taken me with them… I am trained and morally bound to kill swiftly, not to torture and not to prolong death, but I so dearly desired to do those things today… I fear I may become a demon myself.”
Throwing her arms around Skafria and holding him tightly, he sat in surprise, both at her words and how much emotion she was showing to him, and it took him a moment to return the hug with one arm, his other holding the egg.
“Valina, I… it is a horrible thing, yes, but… you still overcame it… you stayed your hand and gave life where many would have killed… but don’t forget, you aided in Marcus’s-”
“I know that!” she snapped, sitting back up and staring into his eyes. “But I didn’t want to do that… I was bound by obedience to listen to my superior, and to stand by as she did those things… it was wrong, I know, but… this, it… it was much worse…”
Skafria was completely awestruck; he sat still for another few moments before reaching out and touching the side of her cheeks – yes, those were tears, real tears coming from the silver-skinned assassin’s eyes.
She was crying.
He pulled her close, closing his eyes. “Good gods, the world really is turning upside-down…”
To be continued…